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Discussion Starter #1
I have an '05 SL AWD w/VDC and experienced a rather disturbing steering problem this morning.

Was making a right turn at about 25-30 MPH in the snow, kind of trying to make the rear end slide a bit. There was nobody on the road and I wanted to test out the VDC.

I applied the brakes, got midway into the turn and boom the steering tightened up. I wasn't on the gas at all and the car just wanted to go straight. My immediate reaction was: ok something's wrong , there's nobody around so just brake and come to a stop.

I decided to "abort" since it was early (there was no traffic on the road) and the stiff steering made me think twice about what might be wrong.

I rolled to a stop in a snow bank on the opposite side of the street and then backed up and proceeded as normal. No unusual behavior afterwards. I even took the car into a big empty parking lot and tested some turns and skids. It performed as expected. The only difference I can think of is that I was gassing it through the turns during my tests.

This sounds a lot like the steering defect that has been discussed here before and in Consumer Reports. Anybody else experience something like this? I thought it was fixed in the 2005 model year.

thanks
Charles
 

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Strange!

Was your AWD switch locked in the on position at the time?

Any chance your speed dropped into the magic range (I think it's 9-10mph on the 05's) where the AWD locks back up as you were going around the corner?
 

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You're right, it does sound like the steering defect. I've found the couple of times it's happened to me, that I could still steer, but it was harder. So I wonder if it was something else....

Hmmm... Now I think about it, I remember my friend telling me that his Maxima (same system) wouldn't let him drift through corners on gravel roads... The VDC would try to make the vehicle go straight.

He'd have to turn the VDC off to get the vehicle to corner and slide.

I'd have to think about this, but if both rear wheels are spinning, or even all of them are spinning, then they're not measuring the differences in rotation for a corner and will try to keep the vehicle straight.

Also, if the wheels are locked, same thing?

I wonder if the VDC did that to you?

I don't have it on my Murano, so I can't compare notes.
 

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I don't know if this helps explain what happened but here is something I read on cornering
AWD Power Slide

Applies To: AWD
Usage: Eliminate risk of fatal under steer on less than ideal roads, resulting in higher cornering speeds.
Theory of Operation: Spinning tires have decreased lateral grip.
Instructions: Destabilize the car. After having done so, stay on the throttle.

More throttle = More sideways motion, less forward propulsion.
Less throttle = Less sideways motion, more forward propulsion.

Ideally the rotation of the car is perfect so it needs no adjustments from the steering wheel - then it is merely kept straight. If adjustments are needed, simply turn the steering wheel and use the throttle to adjust cornering line.

You must find the proper balance. The ideal is sliding at an as angle possible without regaining traction and under steering.

To stop sliding, counter-steer (relative to the turn). If needed, feather throttle.

Notes: Stronger engine is easier to work with. Limited-slip or locked centre and rear differential is nearly a must-have for proper operation. It is possible to use the end of a powerslide to pendulum into another, in the opposite direction. Useful when going from one turn that leads directly into the other. Theory of operation is the same as the final moments of the scandinavian flick.
 

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Yup, works on the Murano...

In the snow, I punch it, just going into a corner to break the rear end loose, then back off on the gas, but keep the back end sliding while turning back out of the turn and correcting for the Murano's desire to keep rotating, using the accelerator to modulate how much the rear end is sliding.

Takes a little bit of practice at first, but works great. Oh, have AWD on, as it can be a little unpredictable if it's not. When it's not on, the Murano senses the lack of traction then applies power to the rear wheels. If your rear wheels are sliding already, this just breaks what little traction there is and you can find yourself spinning right around, praying there's nothing immovable, expensive or alive that you're going to hit. (unless you have VDC!, then it might selectively apply your brakes to make you go straight, even if you didn't want to...)

Practice in a nice big empty parking lot first, if you want to develop this skill.

Oh and for those that feel this kind of thing is reckless and irresponsible, I totally agree, if you're doing it in a place that's inappropriate. On empty, limited access roads, it's a lot of fun and in day to day driving, it could save your life in an emergency situation.

Practiced and developed driving skills has saved me money and my life. If you're not comfortable learning on your own, go take Skid School lessons. Well worth every cent. (And a heck of a lot of fun!)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Sounds about right. Funny thing though is that the SLIP light never came on.

Anyway, I don't usually drive like that so no harm done this time. Just a bit disappointed. I only hope that in an emergency situation the car would not perform in this way.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yeah I'm thinking that was my problem. I should have hit the gas when I came around to get the rear end sliding.

My old car would slide just fine on its own :)

MO just wanted to go straight. I'm going to try it again in the parking lot on the way home.

thanks!
Charles
 

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Sounds exactly like the steering defect. You noted that you were not on the gas during the turn, which may explain why it happened - low engine revs = low steering boost. The system probably has some reserve boost as the revs dropped but ran out as you continued to turn.

So, it seems like the problem is not completely fixed in the 05 models! CR will likely do a followup if Nissan announces the steering defect is fixed, I would be curious to see what they find.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well see... before I bought the car I checked with Consumer Reports. Originally it said that they could not recommend the Murano due to the steering defect.

However their web site now recommends it and says:

"The steering defect problem has been rectified in the 2005 model we tested, enabling us to recommend the Murano. "

So I don't know. Maybe it still occurs but just less often. I've put over 3500 miles on the car and never had a problem before, even in turns like that. I tried to reproduce it but couldn't.

Charles
 

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sid6581

Would you be able to tell us how the CR ratings compare for the 05 vs 04?

Maybe you could even paste some info...

Thanks!
 

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CR's overall score for the Murano has not changed since the first test in 03, since mechanically not much has changed up to the 05 model other than some trim options. They do recommend the 05 model since Nissan claims to have fixed the steering issue.
 

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sid6581

You know that Cr report sucks. Stiff and noisy ride, BS, No luxry inside BS. Those guys always have an agenda.

GRIP :D
 

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It could be either, but I don't think it's the steering defect.

The defect stiffens up, it doesn't lock it. It sounds more like the VDC kicking in, from the descriptions of the VDC I've heard when pushing the vehicle on slippery surfaces.
 

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Re: sid6581

GripperDon said:
You know that Cr report sucks. Stiff and noisy ride, BS, No luxry inside BS. Those guys always have an agenda.

GRIP :D

Actually I agree with CR's assessment. Compared with its nearest competitors, the Highlander and Pilot, the Murano does have a comparably stiffer ride and less high quality interior trim. I recently rented a 05 4Runner on a trip and the interior looked cheaper, but felt nicer than the Murano (nice soft touch surfaces, and all hard surfaces were rubberized).
 

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Discussion Starter #17
jaak,

I tend to agree. I've driven a lot of cars, with and without power steering. Never experienced anything like this. So I'll have to lean towards the new technology as the culprit :D
 

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I'm running through this in my head...

You go into a turn at a decent rate of speed. Let's say it's a left hand turn. So you come in to the turn - wheels turned left. The front end starts to slide causing you to remain going forward - with the wheel turned to the left.

You wouldn't counter-steer at this point as you are understeering. Now, if the back were to come around in an oversteer situation - I could see why you'd counter-steer...

If the front wheels are locked up (on the brakes in snow - it COULD happen but shouldn't) steering is going to be really tough. I certainly don't recommend this - but think about how hard it is to turn the wheel when you are parked...Personally, I try to have the vehicle in motion anytime I move the steering wheel.

Plus, the steering defect has been when going from full lock to full lock. I don't really think they are related. Could be a VDC issue. I've never experienced this but we don't have VDC.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
GMTURBO43,

I've played through it in my head so many times. No idea what happened and I could not duplicate it. I think I understand it a bit better though...

It was a right turn... The front was definitely sliding and the rear was not. I felt the ABS pulsing the pedal so I doubt the front wheels were locked up.

I'm fairly certain we are talking about an understeer situation. Inexperienced with MO in the snow, I expected the rear to skid outward when I went around the turn causing the front of the car to re-orient in the proper direction. It did not and therefore I ended up understeering.

I hit the brakes out of instinct and the steering became tight. In retrospect I probably should have punched it at that point but the tight steering spooked me and I decided to abort completely. The whole car was vibrating but I did not notice the SLIP light on. I suspect the VDC was operating though.

Just have to wait for another time and place to test it. There aren't many empty, unplowed lots in Brooklyn!

thanks
Charles
 

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Talked to my bud with the Maxima... He's made the VDC do this a few times, in the snow and on gravel roads, while cornering.

If you're pushing it beyond "normal" driving, it tries to "help" the vehicle go straight when aggressively sliding through a corner.

He agrees for day-to-day driving, the VDC is good. For pushing and sliding around corners agressively, emphasis on agressively, it sometimes tries to "help" with a negative result.

So in short, if you're going rallying, turn it off.;)
 
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